The Upside Down

The Slimy 'Stranger Things 3' Monster Is Too Gross to Actually Be Scary

stranger things
Ew!!!!! | Netflix
Ew!!!!! | Netflix

If it's Stranger Things, you bet your butt there's gonna be some kind of big ol' monster terrorizing the young citizens of Hawkins, Indiana. In Season 1, it was the aptly-named Demogorgon, who screeched and tore at our heroes with its carnivorous flower face. In Season 2, it was the protean demo-dogs, harbingers of the terrifying Mind Flayer, looming over the town like a giant many-legged spider. The Mind Flayer, of course, never actually went away despite Eleven closing the interdimensional gate, and it's had all this time to come up with a way to break back into the Right Side Up, and its genius solution is… goo. 

Yes, Stranger Things nerds, your big theory about the rats this season turns out to be right on the money. The "mall rats" of Season 3 turn out to be actual furry rats that are lured into an old broken-down factory and transformed into carriers of some weird sickness. Unfortunately for Billy, the bad boy big brother from Season 2, he's the first one to get the bite, and the first to get sent to the Upside Down and become one of the Mind Flayer's minions. 

But the Mind Flayer has a Plan B involving the bodies of those rats -- at least, what's inside them. Because the rats, you see, they pop! For whatever reason (and this is a problem Stranger Things has had forever, this weird unwillingness to explain why anything on the show works the way it does), the "disease" takes hold of the rats so violently that their bodies turn themselves inside out and dissolve into fleshy goo that squirts itself across the floor and down the drain. 

stranger things
Billy, having a bad time | Netflix

This goo can move on its own, and combine with other goo -- including the goo that comes from KO-ing an infected person -- to make a bigger and bigger beast consisting entirely of goo and blood and cracked bones that eventually gives itself the tree-like legs and pointy little head of the Mind Flayer. There are six stages: the infected rat stage, the pop stage, the goo stage, the big goo stage, the roughly cow-sized goo with the suggestion of limbs stage, and the Mind Flayer stage. And let me tell you this: it's gross. By Stranger Things standards, even. The beast is too damn gross! A Demogorgon is one thing; that's a scary monster with a gross-looking face, but at least that's ALL it is. This thing???? Disgusting.

And that's the thing: Stranger Things is literally doing The Thing this season -- as in, the 1982 John Carpenter movie about Kurt Russell and Kurt Russell's good beard trapped in the Antarctic with a body-snatching alien that can hide in plain sight before erupting wayyy too many limbs out of places they shouldn't be and scuttling across the floor. But the Thing isn't scary because parts of it are made out of wax and Jell-O and slimy egg yolks, or because it can turn someone's torso into a giant mouth and chew someone's arms off. It's scary because it could be anyone. As soon as the monster is huge, and screaming, and visible, there's nothing left to fear. The only thing I'm afraid of watching that is having to figure out how to get the goo stains out of my socks.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.